WHO confirms 1 085 swine flu cases worldwide

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Geneva - A total of 21 countries have officially reported 1 085 lab-confirmed human infection cases of the A/H1N1 flu virus to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The largest numbers of cases were still reported from North American countries, notably Mexico and the United States, with 590 and 286 cases, respectively. Those cases include 26 deaths, 25 of which were from Mexico.

The following governments have reported laboratory-confirmed cases with no deaths: Canada (101), Austria (1), Hong Kong, China (1), Costa Rica (1), Colombia (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (4), Germany (8), Ireland (1), Israel (4), Italy (2), the Netherlands (1), New Zealand (6), Portugal (1), the Republic of Korea (1), Spain (54), Switzerland (1) and Britain (18).

The WHO said on Monday that its pandemic alert level would remain at Phase 5 and it had no clear plan to raise it to Phase 6, the highest level which means a full pandemic is occurring, given the fact that there is still no sustained human-to-human infections of the new virus in regions out of North America.

Most of the infections in Europe and Asia were "travel-related cases," which means the virus has not taken root there, said Feiji Fukuda, the WHO's director for health security and environment.

But he stressed that it was "critical" for governments to maintain and strengthen their alert and surveillance, given the continued spread and the highly unpredictable behaviour of the virus.

He expressed particular concern that the new virus might spread in the southern hemisphere, where the winter season is coming and flu viruses tend to be more active.

Meanwhile, in South Africa the laboratory results on the one suspected case of swine flu from the Western Cape province has come back negative.

Susan Kok, 58, had flu-like symptoms when she returned from a month-long holiday in Mexico with her husband. She has been waiting for laboratory tests to determine whether she was infected or not.

Deputy Director, Dr Lucille Blumberg, from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed with BuaNews that the tests had come back negative.

"Yes the results are back and she tested negative, she is well and there is no risk to anyone," Dr Blumberg said on Monday.

Dr Blumberg said the patient had recovered fully and there were no secondary cases.

This would mean that there are no current cases of suspected swine flu in the country.

Last week, a woman from Gauteng who was suspected of carrying swine flu after also visiting Mexico also tested negative for the disease.